The Service-Learning History Project-New Archive Opens at Stanford University

In 1995, Tim Stanton, Nadinne Cruz and Dwight Giles, concerned about the lack of understanding of the historical and philosophical roots of the rapidly growing field of service-learning, organized a gathering of “Pioneers” in the field (I was proud to be invited to attend this event). Sponsored by Stanford University’s Haas Center for Public Service thirty-three people from across the country, who were early adapters of service-learning pedagogy, came together at the Wingspread Conference Center to share their stories about how they came to be in the field. At The Wingspread Meeting 1995, they discussed their roots, their aspirations, their concerns and the challenges they faced. These narratives were captured in the book, “Service-Learning: A Movement’s Pioneers Reflect on its Origins, Practice and Future,” (Jossey-Bass, 1999), which is the only comprehensive account of the early days of this field, is widely cited in current literature, and was recently re-published in China in Mandarin. Documentation and findings from both this meeting and the book provided a foundation for what became known as the Service-Learning History Project.

In 2017, a steering committee made up of pioneers, younger field leaders, and representatives of Campus Compact, an organization which has helped service-learning grow and flourish for thirty years, organized a new gathering which brought together not only early pioneers, who continue to work in the field, but also younger practitioners, researchers and advocates of service-learning in higher education in the US and internationally. The purpose of The Gathering 2017 was to engage in critical, cross-generational review and reflection: to identify and address the field’s current challenges; to explore successful strategies and those that may be limited; and once again to revisit the roots of the practice to deepen understanding of how incorporating community service into the life blood of academic institutions improves instruction, empowers communities and enhances the civic life and skills of young people.

This archive contains audio and video recordings from these two meetings documenting service-learning practitioners’ reflection on their practice and the state of the field. The recordings include plenary sessions, small group discussions, and individual interviews. They explore the field’s emergence and ongoing institutionalization from its beginnings in the 1960s to the current time. The archive also contains other items (documents, videos, etc.) collected over the years that further shed light on the emergence and institutionalization of service-learning in higher education. Efforts to extend and expand the archive are ongoing. The curators welcome additional historical contributions at any time.

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